A Supercut of E3 Trailers Higlights Serious Lack of Women Protagonists

In case you needed a further reminder that gaming has a women representation problem, someone went ahead and visualized the issue for you.

Video maker Jonathan McIntosh created an E3 trailer to end all E3 trailers with the video he created, above, and uploaded to his RebelliousPixels YouTube Channel. It keeps a running count of the various dude protagonist characters shown throughout various E3 hype sessions.

It’s a particularly poignant video after Ubisoft has been catching all kinds of (deserved) heat for failing to include women player characters in co-op roles in its games. Developers working on both Assassin’s Creed: Unity and Far Cry 4 responded in an identical way to questions about why players can’t choose women characters instead of dudes in those games. That answer: it was too hard and too costly to animate women for the games. We know that explanation is utterly bullshit, and it also suggests the subtext of “We think to include women characters until just recently,” or “we didn’t consider women characters important enough to make them a priority.”

Regardless of where you fall on that particular controversy, or on whether gaming needs more women protagonists and player characters (which, okay, if you think the answer is we don’t need more, you’re flat wrong), I think we can all agree that the endless parade of super-similar characters, viewpoints, and stories is getting pretty dull. McIntosh’s video does a pretty solid job of highlighting how similar so many upcoming triple-A titles seem to be. I, for one, would like to see something new.

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37 Comments on A Supercut of E3 Trailers Higlights Serious Lack of Women Protagonists

Concernedgamer82

On June 13, 2014 at 3:54 pm

Cue all the Female Player Denier/Unicorn/Resource Consumption/No Tokenism rhetoric now, because the misogyny’s about to flood onto the comment section in the form of well-reasoned, but ultimately false, assumptions and blatant lies about female gamers, and gamers in general.

T. Jetfuel

On June 13, 2014 at 4:01 pm

The Ubisoft responses may have been identical, but the situations weren’t. In Far Cry 4, you actually play another character in the co-op, while in AC:U you don’t, as I’m sure most people know by now. It was never a question of Ubisoft creating 3 actual co-op characters for AC and deciding they all needed to be dudes. They just chose to implement a trick solution that would allow all players to be the Star at the same time. I don’t get why they cannot communicate this simple distinction. But I also don’t know how a random interweb dude like me who is nowhere near E3 would be aware of it, while accredited journalists covering the event seem oblivious.

In any case, it’s getting kind of old to assume that every white guy is somehow fully represented by bulky space marines and such. I’m not entirely unalienated by them, whatever my skin tone or chromosomes. Some diversity of the non-tokenistic variety would be refreshing, but are we supposed to set up a panel to enforce quotas or what?

Concernedgamer

On June 13, 2014 at 4:09 pm

It’s a matter of the mindset changing. Any “quota” is a token move until game developers realize that the default has to be changed from “Muscled up white dude with facial stubble” to “Player Choice.” Once that mindset changes, quotas won’t be needed, and the tokenism is automatically nonexistent. But, I suppose “Player Choice” is still a foreign concept to gamers.

Phil Hornshaw

On June 13, 2014 at 4:23 pm

@T Jetfuel

I’m aware of the “trick” solution but it still rings false for me, honestly. Watch Dogs has the exact same system — you appear in other people’s games when you hack them. You’re Aiden for you, someone random for them. Since the character model doesn’t matter — in fact you have to be anonymous — that means you could be any person in the game.

Now, I see where Ubi is going with their explanations, but I don’t see it as a good enough excuse to cover what seems like laziness and oversight. Because the situation is this: you always see yourself as The Guy, so that’s fine. But when you call in your Assassin buddies, you always see them all as dudes too. They’re not The Guy, they’re random. And if their models don’t matter and, when they appear in your world, they’re meant to represent your other assassin pals, it still doesn’t really make sense not to include women in some of those models. Each player’s immersion is only enhanced by the realism, given earlier AC games and the roles of women in the Assassins order. All things being equal, it’s still not a trick that really makes a ton of sense, nor a good enough explanation. The discussion is a little different since we’re talking not about who you play, but who you see, but the fact remains that the assassins are only men for no other reason than Ubisoft didn’t bother to include women.

Anyway, the point of all this is: jeez, that’s a lot of the same basic guy. I find it to be very effective to see so many of the same thing arrayed together in realizing how similar games become, and I would hope that the same thing would occur to game developers and publishers. “Damn, our game character IS kinda dull. Maybe let’s attempt the challenge of something different once in a while.” That literally would be a huge step in the right direction without needing to get hyperbolic about quotas or numbers or tokenism. Simple awareness and a little freshness in the idea mill would do wonders.

Concernedgamer82

On June 13, 2014 at 4:44 pm

I think it’s also a matter of the randomness of their co-op component. They’ve apparently gotten it into their heads (and there may even be evidence to support this) that some male gamers take offense to being perceived as “the female” character, so they never actually bothered with it. I’ve been scouring the internet since this thing started, and the comments sections of some articles seem to indicate this insistence on “being masculine,” as the video above shows. However, even this assumption is in error, as it assumes that somehow women cannot participate in competition, combat, or other “masculine” pursuits.

T. Jetfuel

On June 13, 2014 at 5:03 pm

Well, I’m not directing the comment about obliviousness at anyone in particular, but surely anyone who has followed the discussion has seen the number of articles on all major gaming sites, all with multiple staff at the event, who take issue with Ubisoft’s oddly clumsy pronouncements regarding the costs without pointing out that the roots of the issue go back much further into the development process. It’s either misinformed or misleading. The problem didn’t start with Ubi deciding to cut costs of avatars the players are not even going to get to play as. It started when they decided to have it both ways, including a “seamless” co-op, but neglecting to develop any meaningfully multiplayer content.

And yes, the French Revolution would have been an excellent setting for a playable female character. Not that the female fans of the series care, judging by Ubisoft forums. They’d prefer a sequel for virgin hunk Connor.

SweetPea

On June 13, 2014 at 6:12 pm

Most games in the video are action games and shooters, what do you expect? Games like Mirror’s Edge can have a female character and they’re perfectly fine, but in some cases it just doesn’t work.

Yeah, yeah, women can be strong too and all that but just try to imagine playing GTA with a female protagonist. Dragging people out of their cars and smashing their heads in with a baseball bat. I don’t know about you, but I think it would look pretty stupid.

Timmy

On June 13, 2014 at 6:23 pm

This is really just a push for everyone to be more politically correct. Game developers will soon be forced to waste time and money accommodating everyone. Its Ubisofts game. They make it how ever they want. They shouldn’t be forced to include something because a few people want it.

Imagine if a few people reading The Lord of the Rings realized there is only one elf in the fellowship, yet 4 hobbits. This is clearly misrepresenting a major portion of the middle earth population. What if these people contacted all the newspapers and pointed out the Tolkien clearly misrepresents elves and should rewrite the series to better include elves. At the very least he should make sure the main character of his next book should be an elf. And also, everyone who writes fantasy books should make sure more of their main characters are elves.

People who complain about this stuff doesn’t realize that these games are not made for them. People who make games are making the games they want to make. Instead of complaining and trying to force ideals onto other people, make your own game that embraces your own ideals. No one should be forced to modify their creative material in order to appeal to the current political censors.

I feel with these types of criticisms we will eventually reach a point where games will be forced to comply or lose sales due to boycotts and protests. When you play a game, your playing as the character the developers want you to play. Just like when you read a book, you read the characters the author wanted you to read.

Emperor_Draam

On June 13, 2014 at 7:09 pm

Seriously I don’t even know what some of those defending Ubisoft are thinking.

That omitting a feature from the game which’d not only give players more options(more options>less options) but is also thematically important for that specific game(there are TONS of female assassins in the games,historically female assassins existed in real life) because they are too lazy to animate female bodies is COMPLETELY FINE!

Why should they get a pass for that? Video games are already contantly losing features with every new iteration on the grounds that game devs don’t have resources/time/whatever to include them if they also want to have state of the art graphics. But now they can’t be even bothered to create art assets??? We not only have to put up with boring uninspired mechanics and extremely dated graphics(even more infuriating if you are on PC) but now they can’t be even bothered to put PLAYABLE WOMEN in the game???? Seriously just forget about this sexim/ feminism BS. Seriously just how many games HAVE playable women in them? Probably most RPGs, fighting games, RTS,action games, lots of shooters most notably Gears of War 3( an EXTREMELY male oriented game BTW), etc.

So are they seriously telling us that they didn’t put playable women in the game because they couldn’t animate them?
I mean, really? Is this a friggin’ JOKE?

And really we aren’t talking about a feminist revolution here people. Its not something they haven’t done before. As I said playable female chars have been with us for quite some time. We are talking about them TAKING AWAY things that were pretty much considered the norm to have in games years ago.

Obviously this is only part of the bigger problem. That devs nowadays don’t ask themselves “What else could we put into the game to make it more fun” but they instead ask “Whats the lowest amount of effort we have to put into the game so we can still sell it at full price and not get into trouble for lying about its features” which is also the reason why you have to put up with playing essentially the same character over and over in most modern AAA titles.

I mean its not even just that you have to always play males. Why do I even have to play as a HUMAN at all? Just what happened to those games which let you play as these different kinds of monsters, aliens, ghosts, zombies, evil demonic masterminds and things like that?
Really why human male heroes when we could have those instead?

Oh sorry I forgot that they’d be probably too hard to animate with modern “next gen” technology :/

And as for making games with the option to choose the gender of the protagonist. Why the hell isn’t this the norm nowadays? Seriously is it REALLY that hard to put a button on the starting screen which’d swap the model of the protagonist and then to put “tokens” in the dialogue which’d check the gender variable and then fill the blanks with approriate text? Or even have a few events which’d change depending on the variable? Considering how linear and scripted ACs story mode is for example it’d be entirely possible TBH.

Hawke

On June 13, 2014 at 7:30 pm

If this is such an issue, why do game still make so much money? Developing games for profits is decided by what sells, and the these types of games sell with their hero’s being men.

There are obvious exceptions to this, most notably Tomb Raider which is absurdly popular and is getting a new game.

Making such an issue out of this is just absurd, it’s getting to the point that no matter what game goes out, we’re going to have to have another game featuring a female protagonist in a similar situation.

It’s also incredibly stupid when so many excellent games have the option to play as a female, or feature a female protagonist. For those with terrible short term memory, like myself here is a short list of the top of my head:

Mirror’s Edge
Remember Me
Every Tomb Raider game
The Saints Row Games
The Elder Scroll Games
The Fallout Games
Portal & Portal 2
Beyond Good and Evil
Metroid
Wet
Final Fantasy 13 (and others maybe, not sure I never played any FF)
Beyond: Two Souls
The Mass Effect Series
Dragon Age Origins
Assassin’s Creed: Liberation
Resident Evil
Dreamfall: The Longest Journey
Lollipop Chainsaw
Blades of Time
Velvet Assassin
Alice: Madness Returns
Heavy Rain
Bayonetta
Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines
Borderlands

And that’s just from memory, and that’s not even getting into all of the excellent supporting female characters in games, like Alyx vance from Half Life 2, or Elizabeth from Bioshock Infinite.

I really do not understand this whole discussion.

concernedgamer82

On June 13, 2014 at 7:42 pm

You mean the old “Quit oppressing me with equality” routine? Things have to change, and it’s going to happen. It has nothing to do with political correctness, it’s about morality and basic human decency.

Concernedgamer82

On June 13, 2014 at 7:47 pm

@Hawke: Because there are no other options? You think the fact that they still make money somehow proves your position is correct? More options are always better, and with the technology and knowledge that developers have nowadays, there really isn’t an excuse any longer for this sort of thing. Using male privilege and “because developers are still making money” to maintain the status quo are no longer legitimate excuses.

Hawke

On June 13, 2014 at 7:55 pm

@Concernedgamer82
My point was that is this was a significant issue, people wouldn’t buy these games, and the market demands would change the way games are developed. Since this is not the case, there is no reason to change the way games are made, since there is obviously a market for them, I apologise if I didn’t make my point clear.

Development teams are still on deadlines, and in the recent hot topic case of Assassin’s Creed Unity, they have a 12 month development cycle, and they are making a 1:1 scale replica of the city of Paris. It took their artists 8 months to complete just The Notre Dame Cathedral, and in that situation I can understand why they are just copy pasting models and animations (male in this case) from their older games into this one.

Can you define what you mean by “male privilege” and how it relates to this discussion? I am seeing that term used with great regularity, and it seems to cover a truly prodigious amount of topics and discussions. I’m confused as to how it relates to this current issue.

Phil Hornshaw

On June 13, 2014 at 9:34 pm

@Hawke

First, pointing at Notre Dame as a defense for the development team is even worse. You’re saying that with a huge portion of players being women (we could be pragmatic and say it’s probably half but who knows if it’s more than that, it seems like a lot of women I know like Assassin’s Creed), it was more important for the dev team to: first, make men player models; second, make sure they got every detail of Notre Dame right, costing an insane amount of development time as you mentioned; third, add women (whoops, not enough time). Given the (admittedly false binary, but just for the sake of following down this example) choice between lessening the detail on Notre Dame and not including women, Ubisoft chose a digital version of the building. That just underscores the issue even more — the men were the default, the women were the afterthought that got cut for time. That’s not a defense, it’s a problem.

Second, you say people have to vote with their wallet, but that implies that it’s possible to make one choice over another. I mean, your list of games with women protagonists or the possibility of them is sort of laughable, don’t you think? To say, “look, if you want a game about someone who’s like you, just play these, what, 40 games,” while literally huge numbers of games made with men protagonists come out every year. Nearly 40 just on the list in this video. That sounds like male privilege to me, if you’re still looking for a definition. If a player is a fan of Assassin’s Creed, their choice is either shut up and deal with the representation in the game, or not play it at all. I’d say that male privilege is really never having to make that choice.

The point is that you can’t say “the games just wouldn’t sell” and use that as a yardstick for whether representation in games is an issue. It has literally ALWAYS been this way — those people frustrated with under-representation but who are still fans of games have had few choices of games to play by your logic, if they still wanted to play stuff. Apparently, it seems most of them figured they’d rather not lose games altogether than wait for the Play as a Woman or Person of Color train that was never coming.

Hawke

On June 13, 2014 at 11:59 pm

@Phil Hornshaw

I think I can finally understand where you are coming from Phil, the trouble is I disagree with you completely. I could write pages and pages on this, both clarifying my earlier posts, expanding on the subject matter and refuting your logic but at the end of the day I don’t think either one of us will change the other’s mind, not on a topic as divisive as this.

I think you’re dead wrong about the state of the industry, games of the past, and the future of gaming in general, and you probably think I’m a narrow minded misogynist obsessed with my perceived “male privilege” (although I am still utterly confused about what that phrase is supposed to mean.)

We will simply have to agree to disagree.

Phil Hornshaw

On June 14, 2014 at 1:14 am

@Hawke

Nah, I’m not thinking anything ill of you, and you’re right, this is probably a debate in which we’re not going to budge each other. I think reasonable discussion is good, though, and I do think that trying to take the viewpoint of people who aren’t necessarily men (or white men, as the case may be) is useful for we to whom video games always cater. But it’s just a discussion and as long as things stay reasonable, I rather like having comment conversations with people who disagree with me. Good for getting all sides of an issue, even if I have made up my mind on a subject.

SweetPea

On June 14, 2014 at 4:28 am

@Phil

I think you’re seriously overestimating the number of female gamers. You said you know a lot of them yourself, but it’s different in other countries. Where I live, almost every guy plays videogames, but I couldn’t name you one woman whom I would consider a gamer. So overall, I’m pretty sure the big majority of players are still men.

JawaEsteban

On June 14, 2014 at 5:55 am

@SweetPea
Also, you’ve got to pin down the definition of the word ‘gamer’, which I think is tremendously important when used in this context. The common cited figure in most media outlets now is that women make up ’48%’ of gamers. I note that the BBC, unlike the parroting morons that make up most American press, displayed some actual journalistic critical thinking skills and pointed out in a recent article on this topic that the ’48%’ figure is an overall metric that includes mobile gaming, consoles, and PC all in one pile without differentiating. That’s a mistake.
I have no doubt whatsoever that a likely sizable majority of the mobile electronic entertainment users are women, but that doesn’t make them ‘gamers’ (in the commonly accepted use of the word) any more than playing several hundred hours of GTA makes you a crime lord.
If we’re going to have an honest discussion about this issue, both the medium and the type of game need to be factored in. If half the RPG audience turns out to be female, then sure, add more female characters to RPGs (which there generally are, btw). However, let’s not use the fact that there’s a massive female audience playing Bejeweled Blitz as evidence of some supposed massive female audience playing Gears, as example.
For the record, I see nothing wrong with a company tailoring its products and marketing to appeal primarily to its largest customer demographic. Not only is it completely legal to do so, its also basically how the entire business world operates. Video games are no more of a special snowflake than cars, clothes, movies, personal care products, or any of a thousand other consumer products. Dodge sells the overwhelming majority of Chargers and Challengers to men, and it designs and markets accordingly. Box office receipts show that the overwhelming majority of viewers for The Expendables were men, and the sequels have been written, filmed, and marketed accordingly. Christian Louboutin is in absolutely no hurry to introduce a fall line of men’s work boots. Nobody’s grabbing torches and pitchforks in response, either.
As long (and this is the important qualifier) as Ubi has good data indicting that the majority of the player demographic for AC is male, then they are well within their legal rights (and sound business policy) to design the game accordingly. Technically, as a non-govt entity, Ubi is legally allowed to make whatever the hell it wants, but the ethical component can be debated if the numbers bear out the argument.

psycros

On June 14, 2014 at 12:32 pm

This article is the last straw – I can no longer take this site seriously. So one former dev who might have an ax to grind makes the COMPLETELY ABSURD claim that doing an entire suite of animations would only take “a day or two” and you losers run with it? Then you spew pitiful leftist angst at anyone who disagrees with your completely delusional worldview? News flash, morons: there aren’t enough females or homos playing Assgrabbin’s Creed to justify the many weeks of work it would take to add female characters – to say nothing of the fact it would be a wasted effort for the game in question.

hotkourtney93

On June 14, 2014 at 12:45 pm

Phil, why do you care? Why does anyone care if there’s a lack of female characters or not? Seriously, I’m girl and I couldn’t care less about this. I play games to entertain myself, I don’t care if I’m batman beating up Joker, Nillin in Neo-Paris, or Alex Mercer in Prototype. So I ask again, why does anyone care?

Concernedgamer82

On June 14, 2014 at 8:04 pm

@psycros: I’m moderate, not a leftist. This isn’t about left or right, conservative or liberal, Republican or Democrat. It’s about basic HUMAN DECENCY. Try being HUMAN for once, and think about it. Put yourself in another person’s shoes and consider how they may feel about things.

@hotkourtney: I’m sorry. I didn’t realize that you represented the ENTIRE FEMALE POPULATION OF THE WORLD. You’re happy about games as they are? Well, good for you. Other female gamers would rather have female representation in games. Other, more considerate male gamers would like to see it, too.

You see some of us on this planet actually care about things. We actually care about things like equal rights, equal opportunity, equal pay. Political affiliations and “political correctness” don’t even factor into it. Those arguments are only used as a polite “sit down and shut up” approach to an issue. When you say “Oh, GameFront’s just trying to be politically correct and leftist,” what you’re really saying is, “Sit down and shut up! You don’t matter!”

Many of you who argue against female (and even racial) representation in games are some of the same individuals that absolutely hate it when games are used as a scapegoat for bad behavior and crime. You jump up and passionately fight for your right to play games without being perceived as some sort of criminal or nutcase. The problem is, once that issue’s over with, you decide that OTHER gamers should just sit down and shut up and not fight for equality in games.

INEQUALITY of any kind is utterly IMMORAL and INHUMAN. Have some kind of compassion for once. Understand that you could just as easily be in a situation where you have to fight for YOUR rights. If you can’t bring yourself to fight for the rights of others (regardless of your own feelings), how can you ask or expect ANYONE to fight for yours?

Use whatever excuse you want to justify inequality: #BecauseProfit, #BecauseHardWork, #BecauseMarketResearch, #BecauseBecauseBecause. If you won’t fight for other peoples rights, then do the world a favor and don’t fight for your own.

Tiagonal

On June 14, 2014 at 8:43 pm

Is that old S.T.A.L.K.E.R. discussion all over again… There are no women in The Zone, check your context.

Dach

On June 15, 2014 at 12:57 am

@Concernedgamer82
No offense [though I suspect this will be taken as such] but you really need to tone it down with the ad-hominem attacks of other people’s political and social beliefs in this comment section.

NO ONE HERE is suggesting restriction of rights, freedoms, opportunities or equal pay of women in the real world.

This is a discussion about whether or not player agency/immersion is affected by the player avatar’s gender. Claiming that because an individual does not care what race, gender or orientation the protagonist of game may be is equal to lacking any form of compassion for your fellow man is ridiculous. This isn’t a deep-seeded issue of the rights and freedoms of humanity; this is simply whether or not this particular game mode should allow for a greater breadth of diversity over the single player model they chose to go with.

The funny thing is, reading through this comment sections, the vast majority of people seem to be falling into two camps.

One side is adamantly stating that this game is lacking diversity and Ubisoft should be brought to task for that. Whereas the other side is simply stating that they do not care; note that they are not actually defending the idea that this should be a strictly all boys-club of Assassins, but that they simply do not care about who they play as is in this particular instance [which I honestly think may be the healthier of the two standpoints].

I think many people read too much into design decisions and perceive one side or another of an issue as being slighted when what this really comes down to laziness in the industry [something which I will not defend]. I know that I’m sick of seeing the same short-brown-haired white guy running around saving the world from all its problems, but I also know that this template is the easiest for a mostly white-demographic to get behind.

I am not saying that this is because people see white men as a better protagonist. I’m saying it’s being done because developers are lazy and they follow the most common looking metrics when building games. It’s why we have some many shooters, why we had online passes, and why everything had multiplayer crammed into it for the last seven years.

As for my personal stance, I would love it if we had the kind of character creation diversity displayed in the Saints Row series to be featured in every game we play.

However, since I previously worked in the games industry, I know that such a thing as character customization of any type does add a compounding degree of development time to any project the more complex you make the creation-system.

I’m still going to call bull on their claim that they spent eight months building Notre Dame; that sounds like something PR would force them to say.

@Phil Hornshaw
The Entertainment Software Association had a fairly in depth survey about gamers revealing that 48% are female; as a matter of fact your Sister Site [The Escapist] had a pdocast about it in early May.

GazH

On June 15, 2014 at 3:36 am

Raiders of the Lost Ark, Batman, Die Hard, Blade Runner, Terminator, Gladiator, Predator, Heat, Bourne Identity, Iron Man, James Bond, Total Recall, Lethal Weapon, Men in Black, Spider Man, Superman, Minority Report, Independence Day, 300, Robocop…

I could go on and on and on. All the above are action movies that have male leads, they take male leads because they make for a stronger character, they suit the theme of the movie. Over the years computer games have become more and more like movies, with the stories and the cutscenes, they have become quite literally interactive movies. So why is anyone surprised that these action themed games have male protagonists?

Also, why does anyone give a damn? Equality in every day life is quite different to equality in movies and gaming.

T. Jetfuel

On June 15, 2014 at 4:46 am

Look, the games industry has been in a big crisis over the perceived air of triviality attached to it for quite some time now. People go to a tail party and say they work in games, and it hurts when the cultured folks go “LOL, U make pacman 4 kidz nerd!” Or give a look that fo’ sho says that, before excusing themselves to mingle with some Glamorous Hollywood Types, like that dude who held the mic that once ruined a shot in “Who Will Marry America’s Next Bee Attack?” and got totally yelled at by the director. So there’s this multi-front effort to make the case for gaming as the most important medium of cultural expression ever, leading to somewhat contradictory demands on the form. Just a short while ago, the thing stressed over everything else was that games are Art, as in unfettered expression of the creative genius. But that kind of freedom clashed with the need for gaming to act as the didactic space where sexual/ethnic identities are recognized and celebrated. Except of course the bad one. For those people, gaming ought to be a teaching moment about their sins of ignorance and domination.

I get it. People naturally place great value on the thing they are most preoccupied with. Shelley declared that “Poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world”, and while I dig the word-art thing, you may suspect that he was somewhat overstating the case based on being a leading poetry developer of his day. The same goes for game journalists, who are even explicitly identifying themselves with the industry they are covering. If I had a gentle pat on the back for every time I’ve seen a games journalist talk about “our” industry, I’d be in hospital with severe pat-injuries. They are part of the United Front to Advance the Cause, and more than the developers who probably studied weird technical stuff like… uh… multiframe… ambient occlusion… in C±$ or something, they attended the Department of Arts and Humanities, which is concerned with little else besides how the very bedrock of existence is the dynamic potential of concepts to oppress. Also, being that they are professional players of games, they are the ones who are most bored and jaded with gaming cliches like bald space marines.

For people who have not internalized this sense of cause in gaming, it may be genuinely mystifying as to why it seems to be such a major issue. People have different uses for gaming. For me, I guess there’s an element of self-medication to it, without going into any further detail. It may be that many people are not so much opposed to having female and minority characters as protagonists in games as to ACCEPTING THE CONVERSATION itself as something they should be concerned with. They are seeing what they may use as a crucial coping mechanism taken over by a perceived elite-led (that is, people specifically trained in academic concept manipulation) project of cultural revaluation that they haven’t been educated to embrace, AND that appears to vilify them as part of its routine discourse. THAT’S where the kneejerk comes from, not from a general conviction of phallocentric supremacy.

That project, though, is unfortunately what the journalists and many general commentators outside the actual game-making process feel restricted to as their contribution of relevance to the general culture of games. So they are going to insist on keeping up the good fight, so to speak. If you are, say, a woman asking why this is of such supreme importance, you are going to get told that you are not a fitting spokesperson for your gender and are in fact doing it all wrong. “You do not represent all women! In fact, I do, on account of my grasp of the Correct Politics involved!” Which is kind of uncomfortable to behold.

Speaking of the politics of this movement, it’s not very useful to try to locate it too strictly on any simple left-right axis. Certainly a traditional Marxist view would be to find the emphasis on cultural manipulation misguided, as the idea there is that the “cultural superstructure” is determined by the property relations of the society, and will only change once those relations change. Meanwhile, these identity politics approach the issue from the directly opposite angle: once the culture is forcefully changed, these changes will bring about a happy society of fulfilled individual agencies. There are more dimensions here than “The Commiez are coming!”

Well, I guess I should be winding this up. I hope I managed to make some sense somewhere along the way. If we as Gamer Culture are indeed going to be having a debate, I hope to see some original thinking at least, instead of the “two” sides (complex issues always tend to devolve into this) continuing the entrenched sniping with readymade ammo to score a meaningless point here and there. In a cruel irony, the onlooker outcry is precisely enacting the so-called “damsel trope”, hammered on so extensively by Anita Sarkeesian.

Dach

On June 15, 2014 at 10:04 am

@T. Jetfuel

That was amazingly well thought out and I loved it, comments like this are the reason I come to Game Front. Though I have minor disagreements here or there with some of what you say [more on the responsibility of both artists and journalists in the industry].

As an aside:
I’ve begun to wonder why the game media hasn’t actually called out Anita Sarkeesian as being, effectively, pulling a con on the industry?

There is definitive proof that most of her footage/screenshots have been stolen and video of her outright saying she doesn’t play games nor does she really like them.

More importantly she got $160,000 to produce four videos over the course of two years and refuses to explain where the money went and what it was used for.

Source for stolen Gameplay:
http://victorsopinion.blogspot.ca/2013/07/anitas-sources.html

Source for statement of liking Games:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FWxAljFlb-c
[the videos name is divisive and it's got some foul language but I feel it sums up a good part of my ideas about this whole subject]

rickshaw

On June 15, 2014 at 6:09 pm

The Jonathan McIntosh has just used females & women as a plot for fame. His video is Lame and Stupid..+ he ain’t no video maker he’s just a copy and paster.
You want women in video games see all the Asian games its packed.

Michael

On June 15, 2014 at 11:40 pm

It is time to end sexism and destroy that stereotype that only men can be emotionally void disposable fighting machines.

Aedelric

On June 16, 2014 at 12:05 am

Gender and equality is irrelevant in gaming they are just stories. Working inside the industry is another mater but not really the subject here.

I just want good games and a character being male or female does not make or break a game.What I do find ridiculous is expecting developers to make games with gender equality in mind. They have specific markets they want to attract, stories they want to tell and their own controversial subjects they want to address.

You would not tell a novelist what character they should write about nor would you tell an artist what gender of character they should paint. Let developers make what they want to make and if you do not like their direction then vote with your wallet, developers will always create what makes them money.

News articles like this are next to useless, sure it gets your site clicks but it does nothing all for gender equality in the industry.

Concernedgamer82

On June 16, 2014 at 3:03 am

@Aedelric: The handwaving #BecauseMoney argument and attempts to silence the issue are the problem. The “Male Default” is the problem. Pretending that portrayals of women in games and in media in general don’t matter is the problem.

Put your egos and love of hegemonic masculinity aside for ten minutes, and try reading and learning:

http://www.doctornerdlove.com/2011/11/nerds-and-male-privilege/

Concernedgamer82

On June 16, 2014 at 3:17 am

Blandly predictable nonarguments and denials. Try actually thinking through things and putting yourself in another person’s shoes for once.

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/pub?hl=en_GB&hl=en_GB&key=0AmGyd83RsaUPdDRHajJJeEZROGRGTHhRcFZib1lVRWc&output=html

Also, a quick question, and be honest: What’s it like to actually BE a stereotype? I mean, denials and willfull ignorance really just make you copy-pasted entities in life, doesn’t it?

SweetPea

On June 16, 2014 at 7:14 am

@Concernedgamer82

Complain all you want, developers won’t spend the extra time and money it takes to also include playable female protagonists, and you can’t blame them for it. Most players either prefer to play as a male character or don’t care about the gender at all. People who can’t stand playing as a male are in the very little minority, and I have a hard time feeling sorry for them. I’m fine playing as big white dudes, just as I am fine playing as Clementine, or a two year old in Among The Sleep. so why can’t they?

If you have so much empathy for them, go support games with female leads. That is what could change the situation, not the constant complaining.

Blarty

On June 16, 2014 at 11:04 am

@Concernedgamer82

You, and by extension most of the journalists and people calling this out to be an issue, don’t want equality, you want gender balance redress, because full equality would require you to give up feelings about the bad old days and for each side to start anew. Championing females to have a proper representation in games requires including for every two bad guys you shoot in any game, one of them has to be female. I’m sure that would go down a treat wouldn’t it? If we’ve got equal chance at female protagonists, then we really should have equal chance at female antagonists, shouldn’t we? Now it might seem trite, and you may scoff but that’s equality.

Should here be more females in games? Completely, unequivocally – but please don’t dress this up as equality, because really it’s nothing of the sort.

Also I’d kind of like an actual survey to have been done, perhaps at Gamescom where it’s open to all gamers, perhaps then a journalist might have the confidence to actually ask female gamers whether they feel outraged by this, because as much as I’ve seen female gamers be upset at this, there’s also a lot feeling rather excluded from actually being able to give their own voice to it, and dare I say it, make their minds up and you know, voice their own opinions.

Dach

On June 16, 2014 at 12:38 pm

@Concernedgamer82

So I have to point out that many people here are making a lot of valid points about not being divisive and this shouldn’t be a yes or no issue. There have been fair points on both sides about the concept of character and player agency when in relation to customization of a protagonist.

And you, 82, have been part of none of that.

You keep offering straw man arguments and continuously insult the moral, personal and political beliefs of anyone who isn’t agreeing with you one hundred percent.

I had a look at the Sexism bingo card you posted and could only find two of them appearing in this comment section:

“Everyone knows ‘sex sells’, and the developers are just making things they think will sell.”

Now this one wasn’t literally stated, nor has sex appeal really been anything argued in this comment section. What has been referred to is the metrics of short-brown-haired white males who keep being the main character of every game. This isn’t happening as an act of oppression but because [and I can’t state this enough] the games industry, like most mass media, is LAZY.

You want to call them out for being lazy and derivative, you’ll find support of some kind from pretty much every corner of the debate.

HOWEVER, when you make the claim that anyone who doesn’t fight for this tooth and nail is actively or passively oppressing their fellow man that’s when people started gettin’ pissed and defensive. You want people on your side? Stop spitting venom at them because they try to explain the moral grey that is reality.

“It’s just a game. No-one cares.”

This is the other statement that is the major argument against this reform of the entire industry and I must admit that to a degree they are right. As much as I love games, as much as I rally behind them as art, as some of the greatest ways to express the human condition; in the end they are just video games.

They are a means of entertainment and many do not, nor will they ever, care about the beeps and boops that we hold dear.

Balanced Mind

On June 16, 2014 at 4:28 pm

It would be a lot easier to give a damn if Gamefront hadn’t milked sexism stories for more than their worth. Every time I see anything even remotely relating to social issues on this site now – especially when it’s posted by someone like Phil “too many white people in Assassin’s Creed” Hornshaw – I just sigh and assume it’s going to be a politically correct overreaction that makes a straw man assumption of discrimination when the reality is probably a lot more mundane (i.e. it’s still an emerging artistic medium, the make-up of the industry is slowly but surely changing and it’s becoming more representative over time, it’s gradual but it is in fact happening. There’s been a ton of female protagonists in the last few years as more women have become prominent in development).

What really irritates me, however, is that it’s being treated as if ‘women’ (along with black characters, characters, and probably soon disabled characters at the rate we’re going) is somehow an asset to a game, and a game’s quality can be gauged on how many there are or, for that matter, how many white male characters there are. This is not a healthy attitude to have, it is in fact hugely prejudiced and is a form of objectification every bit as shallow and regressive as the large-breasted bimbos that are really not as big a trope in modern gaming as they were 15-2- years ago. This is a medium trying to cement itself as a mature form of storytelling, but there’s absolutely nothing mature about looking down your nose and demanding x amount of ‘so and so’ characters just because you think it’s the PC thing to do. Stories are a product of their culture, and for most of videogame history the culture has been male-dominated. This is changing and thus, gradually, so is the culture of gaming. It’s evolving naturally. Demanding it speeds up artificially is only going to lead to a trend that already appears to be present in a benign form – the forced inclusion of clichéd strong, female leads that are underdeveloped but tick boxes for the leftist intellectual snobs. Who cares if they’re not really contextually necessary to that particular story or setting? As long as they’re there, that’s all that matters. Except it doesn’t – it’s just degenerating everything into numbers for no good reason.

In the end though, I return to my original point – that this is now complete and total overkill, an attempt by Gamefront to compensate for the insecurities and liberal guilt of its staff, all of whom are men. It’s impossible to take any of this seriously when it’s been proven that you care more about sensationalism than fair reporting – as shown by the Far Cry 4 box art “controversy” that didn’t even count as a story unless you chose to find obscure racism in it that no rational mind would ever have noticed. It’s about time you realised that less is more, and as long as you saturate your output with this bland, repetitive, biased and unbalanced attempt at forcing a social agenda, the more apathetic and annoyed people are going to get.

Dach

On June 16, 2014 at 4:53 pm

@Balanced Mind

Seriously? SERIOUSLY?!?

I just finished calling out one side for ad hominem attacks and now I have to call someone else out on the other side of the debate.

Janelle Bonanno is the deFacto editor of this site.

She posted something today about Defense Grid 2 for chr!stsake!!

So that refutes the whole idea of this site being run by cabal of men.

Also, Phil Hornshaw almost exclusively champions consumer freedoms [which is a rare but appreciated sight in the journalist section of the industry] though I sometimes don’t agree with the man it’s just juvenile to attack his political beliefs because of a video game.

The one thing I’m most sick of out of all this is the people yelling past each other instead of raising viable points about what is going on with the industry. This whole thing is not a social-issue, it’s a simple matter of laziness; it is literally easier for these studios to keep churning out the same thing over and over on than put in a lot of effort for new product [and this is coming from someone who loves Assassin's Creed].

My personal, and final thoughts on this thread, and on this whole thing is thus:

If we want diversity we should be fighting for a character customization element in every game rather than specific cherry picked gender, orientation or racial minorities.

If every game allows for you to create a Sheperd or The Ruler of the Saints or Dovahkin then we can finally start immersing ourselves to an even greater degree into out favourite hobby.

But for god sakes until then stop being a bunch of a-holes and blanketing people you don’t even ruddy well know.

Michael

On June 17, 2014 at 2:09 am

@Dach
“If we want diversity we should be fighting for a character customization element in every game rather than specific cherry picked gender, orientation or racial minorities.”

Like Dark Souls 2, where you can be anything you want as long as your body shape is Caucasian and you move like an androgynous robot.

A fully customizable character costs money to develop. And Gamefront’s “just copy&paste the male animations and call it a day” won’t do as games get more realistic. There is no immersion in uncanny valley.

“If every game allows for you to create a Sheperd or The Ruler of the Saints or Dovahkin then we can finally start immersing ourselves to an even greater degree into out favourite hobby.”

Yay! More bland forgettable characters like Shepard that can never act in a way that contradicts the other character configuration choices because they all must share the same story line.

I don’t need the character to match my gender for immersion. And other than some throwaway quote from some guy quoting another guy I have not seen any hard data, i.e. studies, that would support the claim that players need matching genders in the protagonist for immersion.

So no, I disagree. I would rather see the budget spent on one plausible character with a story acknowledging their gender, ethnic background etc. rather than a watered down story for a bland template that is infinitely customizable.